the Union ministry of environment and forests (moef) has done a double take on its commitments and stalled the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (nbsap). The nbsap is a national obligation under the un Convention on Biological Diversity. It is a multi-stakeholder plan being worked upon since 1999 as a government project sponsored by the undp, coordinated by Kalpvriksh, a non-governmental organisation, and administered by Biotech Consortium India Ltd (bcil).
nbsap's broad purpose was to produce an action plan to ensure the conservation of India's biodiversity and sustainable use of its biological resources. The process, now into its fifth year, should have been completed by the end of 2003, its report published and its second phase of pilot implementation in place. The plan for the us $993,000 project was worked upon with the participation of more than 50,000 people.
The moef backtracked on the process in January 2004. It indicated that the final draft of nbsap's National Action Plan could only be considered a technical report and would have to be ratified by a Union cabinet committee to qualify as a 'government action plan'. Now, the government has even refused to make the 'technical report' public in its present form. Earlier, the ministry had promised to publish a mere three copies of it, but now it has refused to do so. Kalpvriksh is yet again negotiating with the moef.
Some government officials criticise the plan, saying it is not practical to implement it and that is why the government is stalling it. But environmentalists argue that the government should have said so while the report was being prepared as it was an active partner. They stress that the public has a right to a document made with so many people's efforts, using public funds close to a million us dollars. Giving the Global Environmental Facility/ undp only a technical report would also violate the contractual obligation of the moef and the government's department of economic affairs to provide a final National Biodiversity Strategy, they add.
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